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27 Nov 2007 : Column 316Wcontinued
These figures are for both river and sea flood risk. Further substantial sums were paid to local authorities for coast protection works which are primarily intended to protect against coastal erosion but which also often provide significant protection against sea flooding. Local authorities also receive funding for flood risk maintenance and operational activities through the local government funding arrangements provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, whether her Departments statement of principles with the insurance industry extends to (a) the cost implications of additional landfill tax as a result of flood damaged property to be disposed of and (b) uninsured losses 
Phil Woolas: I have been asked to reply.
The Association of British Insurers Statement of Principles aims to ensure continued widespread availability of flood cover for households in flood risk areas. It does not extend to the cost implications of additional landfill tax or uninsured losses.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will establish a national strategy for cleaning ditches and brooks as part of his flood prevention policy. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 26 November 2007]: The operating authorities (principally the Environment Agency) undertake prioritised programmes of maintenance work on watercourses, including cleaning and dredging where appropriate. Otherwise responsibility for clearance lies with the land owner.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms (a) he has and (b) he plans to put in place to prevent flooding in East Yorkshire. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 26 November 2007]: The Environment Agency is currently preparing the 100-year Hull and Humber Strategies. The Hull Strategy is expected to be delivered in 2008-09 subject to consultation leading to its implementation. It will examine the long-term requirements, risks, cost and benefits of flood defences, and other forms of flood risk management in the Hull catchment.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on flood defences in the West Country since 2002. 
Mr. Woolas: The following table shows the amount spent on flood defences in the west country since 2002.
Capital support by DEFRA to local authorities and internal drainage boards (now paid through the Environment Agency) in the same area was as follows:
The aforementioned data do not include support for local authority coast protection works which are primarily intended to protect against coastal erosion, but can also often provide significant protection against sea flooding. Nor do they include funding to local authorities for flood risk maintenance and operational activities through local government funding arrangements provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely increase in carbon dioxide emissions from the use of outdoor heating for smokers following the introduction of the ban on smoking in enclosed public places. 
Mr. Woolas: The Market Transformation Programme (MTP) has recently updated its briefing note on Outdoor Heating for Comfort to take account of the impact of the smoking ban on carbon dioxide emissions from outdoor heaters. The revised briefing note estimates that annual carbon dioxide emissions from patio heaters in commercial premises, would lie between 96 and 282 Kilotonnes CO2. The updated briefing note is available on the MTP website at:
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued to EAGA partnerships to ensure that Warm Front contractors are locally based. 
Mr. Woolas: Guidance has not been issued to EAGA to appoint locally based installers.
EAGA has been instructed to select installers based on the strength of the tender they have submitted and following checks on financial probity and qualifications. Preference could not be given to local contractors due to regulations governing public procurement in the European Union.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether Warm Front contractors are required to be local businesses. 
Mr. Woolas: Successful installers working on the Warm Front Scheme were chosen on the strength of the tender they submitted and following checks on financial probity and qualifications. Preference could not be given to local contractors per se due to regulations governing public procurement in the European Union.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones consultation. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 26 November 2007]: The public consultation on the implementation of the EC Nitrates Directive in England was launched on 21 August. The deadline for receipt of responses is 13 December 2007.
A report presenting a summary of my Departments analysis of consultation responses will be published early in the new year.
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has for requiring supermarkets to take greater responsibility for the environmental impact of the waste they generate; and if he will make a statement. 
Joan Ruddock: Supermarkets are already responsible for the environmental impact of the waste they generate.
There are two sets of packaging regulations in place to encourage producers (including retailers) to minimise, recycle and recover packaging and reduce packaging waste.
The Government have created incentives for all businesses to reduce, re-use and recycle their waste. For example, we have announced that the landfill tax escalator will be increased, so that the standard rate of tax will be raised by £8 per annum from £24 now to £48 in 2010.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) assists both businesses and consumers in their efforts to be more efficient in their use of materials and reduce the impacts of their waste. WRAP is currently working with food retailers through the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement which aims to halt packaging growth by 2008 and make absolute reductions in packaging waste by 2010. 12 major retailers, representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector, and 12 major brands have signed the commitment since its launch in 2005.
In addition, DEFRA, working with WRAP and the devolved Administrations, has secured the agreement of UK retailers to reduce the overall environmental impact of their carrier bags by 25 per cent. by the end of 2008.
WRAP also has a target to divert 100,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill by March 2008. Retailers, and a number of significant food manufacturers, have agreed to work with WRAP to help deliver this target. More generally, DEFRA is working closely with the food industry to improve its environmental impact through the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS). The FISS targets a reduction in the food industrys own wastes of 15-20 per cent. by 2010.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with Gloucestershire county council on its proposed waste facility at Javelin Park off Junction 12 of the M5. 
Joan Ruddock: No such discussions have taken place. The Government believe that local authorities are best placed to make local waste management decisions.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the long-term effects of the flooding in Africa; and what additional work his Department is undertaking to assist the flood-hit regions. 
Mr. Malik: In West Africa and the Sahel, the floods have coincided with the most critical time of year, when families face food insecurity. The destruction of crop and food stocks has aggravated the vulnerability of poor families both in the immediate and medium terms. In East Africa, the effects have been as severein Uganda, the next successful harvest cannot be expected before February 2008, and it will take at least two harvests for affected households to fully recover their losses.
Across the affected countries, medium term food security needs are being formally assessed by DFIDs traditional partners (including the World Food Programme), and DFID will respond as appropriate on the basis of the vulnerabilities identified.
DFID has responded promptly to the humanitarian consequences of the flooding through relief interventions and complementary early recovery activities, where needs have been assessed and identified. Overall, a total of £9.21 million has been allocated for flood response from the UNs Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)to which the UK has contributed £42.2 million this year. The Togo contribution (£110,000) was specifically for agricultural recovery.
DFID is also the largest donor to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) in Sudan, contributing approximately £40 million this year, and the Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) in Ethiopia, contributing £3 million this year. These funds have been drawn down in Sudan (£2.4 million) and Ethiopia (£1 million) for flood response. Some of these funds will be directed towards addressing the longer term effects of the flooding.
Direct DFID funding is being provided where humanitarian and recovery needs remain unmet. So far DFID has contributed £1 million in Ethiopia to the appeal of the international Red Cross (ICRC), some of which is being used for flood response, and a total of £1.834 million in Uganda and Ghana. In. Ghana £343,000 is in support of an agricultural recovery programme being implemented by CARE.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid and assistance has been provided by the UK Government to Bangladesh in relation to damage caused by Cyclone Sidr. 
Mr. Malik: The UK Government have provided £5 million for Cyclone Sidr relief in Bangladesh: £2.5 million through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to local Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and an additional £2.5 million as announced by the Secretary of State on the 23 November. The UK also accounts for an 18 per cent. share, around £650,000, of the European Commissions (EC) pledge of approximately £3.6 million for emergency aid. DFID has made indirect contributions through the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which has allocated US $14.7 million to the Bangladesh response. This year, DFID has provided $83.7 million to the Fund, making us the largest donor. The UK is also providing support through some of our existing development programmes in Bangladesh.
DFID has sent two disaster relief experts to Bangladesh to support the DFID country office in its emergency efforts and make recommendations on further UK support. Our Bangladesh office is in regular contact with the Government of Bangladeshs Disaster Management Bureau (to which DFID is providing long-term support), and the UN team concerning the situation on the ground.
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what percentage of inquiries received by his Department from the public were responded to within (a) one week, (b) 14 days, (c) 28 days, (d)
two months and (e) three months in the last period for which figures are available; and in what percentage of cases it took (i) over three months and (ii) over one year to respond. 
Mr. Malik: The Government publish an annual report to Parliament on the Departments performance in replying to Members and Peers correspondence. The report for 2006 was published on 28 March 2007, Official Report, column 101WS. Information for 2007 will be published as soon it is ready after the end of the calendar year. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.
DFID does not hold information on public inquiries in the format requested, and it could be collated only at a disproportionate cost. In 2006, the Departments Public Inquiry Point handled 17,545 inquiries. 88 per cent. of letters and 90 per cent. of e-mails were answered within 15 days and 95 per cent. of telephone requests were answered within two days.
Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which manufacturers software is used in his Department. 
Mr. Malik: Software from the following manufacturers is in use in DFID:
Abbey Software House
Adobe Systems Inc.
AdREM Software Inc.
Apache Software Foundation
Aptech Systems Inc.
AXS-One Europe Ltd.
Barron McCann Ltd
Belina Time Systems (Private) Limited
BorderWare Technologies Inc.
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